After stating a variational theorem which is a further generalization of known variational theorems and which has as its Euler equations all of the field equations and the boundary conditions of classical linear three-dimensional elasticity, the remainder of the paper deals with its application to shell theory. A new characterization of the basic system of field equations and the boundary conditions of the linear theory of elastic shells is derived which includes the effect of transverse shear deformation and involves only symmetric resultants and symmetric shell-strain measures. These results are of special significance in relation to those of a number of recent investigations in shell theory under the Kirchhoff-Love hypothesis in which the boundary-value problem of shell theory is recast in terms of symmetric (but not necessarily the same) variables.

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